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Student advocate attend ceremonial bill signing

Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawaii representatives and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7

A handful of student advocates joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Kanuha on Thursday afternoon as they signed into law Bill 135 to raise the legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to 21 in Hawaii County.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawaii (CTFH) West Hawaii and East Hawaii Coalitions and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawaii Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill.

Hawaii County Council unanimously passed Nov. 20.

“I signed this bill for the benefit of our community, and most importantly, our kids,” Kenoi said. “Mahalo to Councilman Kanuha for hearing their voices and having the courage to follow through. With all of the known harmful effects of tobacco use, this measure is in the best interest of public health and safety.”

Kenoi admitted the legislation would not change behavior immediately, but said it is a small step toward a healthier community overall.

He praised Kanuha for his courage and vision in introducing the bill and also commended the students for participating in the civic process and becoming advocates for an issue they believe is important.

Kanuha said he understands the new law is not a game-changer, but he hopes it will put a wider barrier between smoking adults and teenagers.

“We all know smoking can kill you; that not at issue. We’re only the fourth county in the nation to pass legislation that raises the tobacco distribution age to 21,” he said. “The bottom line is protecting our youth and building healthier communities.”

More than 40 students from Kealakehe and Konawaena high schools attended the initial committee hearing Oct. 15 and the final reading Nov. 20, wearing T-shirts stating ‘One Good Reason’ with an arrow pointing up toward their face. Additionally, Waiakea High School students submitted nearly 300 pieces of written testimony.

“We are deeply grateful to Councilmember Kanuha and his staff for creating a bill that was easy for the other councilmember’s to support,” said Sally Ancheta, East Hawaii Coalition coordinator for CTFH. “We thank Mayor Kenoi for taking the initiative to protect our youth and supporting the many voices that came to testify.”

According to CTFH, more than 90 percent of smokers became daily tobacco users before the age of 18.

The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii (CTFH) works to build, sustain and support a statewide coalition to create a tobacco-free Hawaii.

— Find out more:
www.tobaccofreehawaii.org
www.twentyonereasons.org
www.hiphi.org

One Response to “Student advocate attend ceremonial bill signing”

  1. DT says:

    Can’t a retailer deny the sale of tobacco to a minor who is 18 – 20 years of age, but is exempt by law? Individuals who are under age 21 may still purchase tobacco as long as they turn 18 before 7/01/14. Sounds crazy, but they are exempt and may continue purchasing tobacco legally for 3 years despite being only 18, due to the grandfather clause in the bill. The burden is on the retailer to authenticate the ID and train their associates to properly calculate the age. One mistake, the retailer gets hit with a fine and the associate can lose his/her job. Yet the minor who illegally purchased tobacco using trickery (some are good at this) will get away scot free. Go figure.

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